The understanding of quality in day-care centers must be derived from the child and his or her development-specific needs. This means both the basic physical needs for protection from cold and heat, for food, for cleanliness and physical integrity, as well as the basic psychological needs for attachment, the experience of competence and autonomy.
If one takes this principle seriously, it becomes clear that the understanding of early childhood educational quality cannot be made dependent on a specific educational approach (e.g. whether one works according to Montessori, Steiner or rather according to Reggio pedagogy), but rather is fundamentally reflected in it, to what extent the needs of the children are met and their development is supported in an age-appropriate manner. At the same time, the various aspects of education, upbringing and care for children in day-care centers and their conditions for success must be considered.
The framework conditions are important for quality
The existing and used structural conditions represent the framework in which the daily interactive processes between the educational professionals and the children take place and shape the actual educational quality. Educational quality is given when the respective educational orientations, structures and processes promote the physical, emotional, social and intellectual well-being and the development and education of children in these areas both now and in the future. It is important to focus on the child’s perceived interest in good education, care and upbringing and thus to consider and evaluate the quality from a child’s perspective.
Quality in day-care centers requires good working conditions
Working with the youngest age group is very challenging and places high demands on the resilience of the staff. The working conditions are not always experienced as sufficient and supportive. Above all, a high fluctuation in the team, scarce personnel resources (without personnel reserves in the event of short-term staff absences, e.g. in the event of illness or increased personnel requirements, e.g. during the acclimatization) and lack of time in the daily routine contribute to the fact that specialists repeatedly reach their limits. For the educational teams, good quality in day-care centers means guaranteeing working conditions under which requirements and resources are balanced.
Educational quality affects children
In the meantime there is a growing number of studies that investigate the connections between the quality of care outside the family and the level of development of children in language, cognition and social-emotional competencies. In particular, the data from the American NICHD study provide empirical evidence of the influence of both family factors and that of extra-family care on child development. For example, there were longitudinal correlations between a low quality of care outside the family and later externalizing problem behavior of the children: Negative effects of attending a daycare center with low quality were particularly evident when the children spent a lot of time in the facility and when the groups were very big. Although the effect sizes of the facility quality were rather low, especially in comparison to the influence of the family, the importance of these influences should not be underestimated. For children who do not receive ideal care in their families, extra-family care with excellent quality can have a compensatory effect and prevent deficits in social development and problem behavior. If, on the other hand, these children experience a low quality of care outside the family, this also has a negative effect on their development. Extra-family care with excellent quality can have a compensatory effect and prevent deficits in social development and problem behavior. If, on the other hand, these children experience a low quality of care outside the family, this also has a negative effect on their development. Extra-family care with excellent quality can have a compensatory effect and prevent deficits in social development and problem behavior. If, on the other hand, these children experience a low quality of care outside the family, this also has a negative effect on their development.
Quality means responding to the individual child and keeping an eye on the group
Fundamentally important for the success of quality in day-care centers seems to be the competence of the educator to design interactions individually tailored to the individual child, without losing sight of what is happening in the group. Thus, the prerequisites for successful educational processes are already in the crèche
1) a high quality of individual relationships between educator and child,
2) high sensitivity of the educator towards the group of children
3) as well as good organization of the learning situation.
This high quality of interaction can only be experienced every day for children in day-care centers if the teachers who work with the children have enough time and resources to focus their attention on the needs of the individual children as well as the group.